The British Army in the 18th century was commonly seen as disciplined, regimented and harsh. Camp life was dirty and cramped with the potential for a rapid spread of disease, and punishments could be anything from a flogging to a death sentence. Yet, many men volunteered to join the army, to escape the bleak conditions of life in the cities, for a chance to travel the world and earn a regular wage.
There were a number of names used to describe the variety of groups serving within the army, including the militia, fencibles, associations, volunteers, yeomanry, rangers, local militia and provisional cavalry. Although many of the men rarely saw active service abroad, the army was often used as a constabulary force within the British Isles and it was often questioned whether a standing force was actually needed. However, the growth of the British Empire in the 19th century demanded the use of an established imperial force.